Princeton Election Consortium

A first draft of electoral history. Since 2004

Homeland Security Memo on Actual Sources of Terrorism

February 26th, 2017, 7:02am by Sam Wang

The memo is here. Based on analysis of actual identified threats and incidents relevant to the U.S., the top seven nations are Pakistan, Somalia, Bangladesh, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iraq, and Uzbekistan. Although all but two (Cuba and Ethiopia) are predominantly-Muslim countries, there is not much overlap with the countries named in the Muslim travel ban. For instance, Iran and Syria are not on this list.

→ 1 CommentTags: 2014 Election

Politics & Polls #32: Israel and Palestine

February 23rd, 2017, 8:28pm by Sam Wang

Almost every U.S. president has struggled to broker a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. A two-state solution was already looking fleeting. What can we expect to see from President Donald Trump? In Politics & Polls, George W. Bush’s Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, joined Julian Zelizer and me to take a hard look at Israel policy…and its baroque domestic politics.


(P.S. don’t ask me what happened to Episode #31 – I think we’re releasing them a little out of order!)

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Coding for Journalists

February 22nd, 2017, 11:27pm by Sam Wang

A crash course in Python for journalists who wish to scrape data. Intriguing!

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Arnold Schwarzenegger breaks down gerrymandering

February 22nd, 2017, 10:56am by Sam Wang

Schwarzenegger gives an amusing and substantively sound take on gerrymandering:

His solution is a citizens’ commission to take redistricting out of the hands of legislators. As I have analyzed (see page 1296), the California Redistricting Commission has done a good job of creating competitive races where none existed before.

A commission-based approach has the advantage that it can potentially address a wide variety of offenses: partisan gerrymanders, uncompetitive districts, and racial packing. The key is to write the law with care. For example, in combating partisan gerrymandering, specifying compact districts is not as useful as it sounds unless partisan symmetry is also included as a criterion.

Another approach is to go through the courts. In this domain, an important issue is partisan gerrymandering, where levels of representation are distorted. Cases in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Maryland are percolating through the courts, with at least one of those cases (Wisconsin) likely to hit the Supreme Court in the fall.

If you’re interested in this topic, next Thursday and Friday there’s a major conference on partisan redistricting, at Duke University. If you’re in the area, register and attend!

→ 4 CommentsTags: governors · Redistricting · U.S. Institutions

Politics & Polls #30

February 10th, 2017, 2:31pm by Sam Wang

A federal appeals court has blocked President Donald Trump’s executive order issuing an immigration ban barring people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. Trump also has made moves toward building a border wall with Mexico, which recent figures suggest may cost an estimated $21 billion.

To get into what these moves would actually accomplish, Julian Zelizer and I took a deep dive into immigration and border control with Doug Massey, one of the country’s leading experts in this field. Massey busted many myths, including the question of whether the effect of a border wall is to keep people out of the United States – or cage them inside.


Bonus: Doug Massey has made a cool appearance on Adam Ruins Everything to explain these points. Scroll to 3:20. Doug is hilarious.

→ 5 CommentsTags: President · U.S. Institutions

Awesome telling of the story of 2016

February 8th, 2017, 8:32pm by Sam Wang

A splendid telling of the story of 2016, by Mike Davis at Jacobin. Davis weaves together unbreakable party loyalty, evangelicals, redistricting and gerrymandering, and the hostile takeover of the Republicans into a coherent tale. I don’t know of a better telling of where we went – and where we may go next.

To be continued.

→ 12 CommentsTags: 2016 Election · President

Live feed of Ninth Circuit – Muslim ban case

February 7th, 2017, 7:04pm by Sam Wang

Oral arguments here. Liveblogging at the New York Times suggests that at least two of the three judges on the panel lean toward keeping the ban suspended for now. Whatever happens, the court will consider the ban’s merits later.

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Auto-Crat (TM) 1.0

February 5th, 2017, 11:48am by Sam Wang

Here is an idea that, if done well, subverts the use of Twitter as a political tool by making the content into a joke.

We hear about technology as a destroyer of jobs: automated factories, and maybe someday self-driving cars. These trends hit a whole sector of Trump’s supporters. But could the need for Trump himself be eliminated?

Above is an example of a Trump tweet simulator. The idea is fairly simple. [Read more →]

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Politics & Polls #29

February 3rd, 2017, 7:34am by Sam Wang

Are we seeing the birth cries of an authoritarian regime? Or is it the gang that couldn’t shoot straight? Julian Zelizer and I debate this and more in episode #29 of Politics & Polls.

Following up on a previous episode with Theda Skocpol on rebuilding the Democratic Party, here’s a great interview with Skocpol in Democracy Journal about learning from the Tea Party movement.

→ 8 CommentsTags: 2018 Election · House · President

Authoritarian Government Watch

January 28th, 2017, 5:00am by Sam Wang

I’ve written before on what features are shared by fascist movements, and a ten-point warning checklist for how 2017 America may becoming like 1934 Germany. After 7 8 10 13 28 days of the new Administration, how are things going?

I score them doing or attempting three four five (six?) out of ten so far: #1, #3, #4, (#5?), #7, and #8. Note that some of these are not yes/no issues, especially while a story is unfolding.

  1. Taking sides with a foreign power against domestic opposition.
  2. Detention of journalists.
  3. Loss of press access to the White House.
  4. Made-up charges against those who disagree with the government.
  5. Use of governmental power to target individual citizens for retribution.
  6. Use of a terrorist incident or an international incident to take away civil liberties.
  7. Persecution of an ethnic or religious minority, either by the Administration or its supporters.
  8. Removal of civil service employees for insufficient loyalty or membership in a suspect group (e.g. LGBT, Muslim, and other groups). (2/16: also the intelligence community)
  9. Use of the Presidency to incite popular violence against individuals or organizations.
  10. Defying the orders of courts, including the Supreme Court.

Some notes:

#2: On the day of the inauguration, journalists were arrested. Does that count? It might be an isolated instance. I’m not counting it.

#3: Trump’s only calling on right-wing outlets at press conferences. A borderline situation, but it seems like a major disconnect with the press. (Update 2/17: he called on some regular reporters, such as CNN’s Jim Acosta…though he did abuse them a fair bit.)

#4: Trump makes false claims of massive voter fraud. These claims have no basis in reality.

#5: Feb. 17: In his meandering, uncomfortable press conference yesterday, Trump said he was directing the Justice Department to investigate criminal leaks. Usually, Presidents do not direct criminal investigations because of the concern of politicizing law enforcement. Does this meet criteria? I’m not counting it yet…but it’s developing.

#8: This is in flux. Acting Attorney General Yates was a career civil servant, but also an appointee of the previous Administration. However, in light of the multiple lower-court orders regarding the executive order, her firing raises questions about whether the rule of law is being eroded. Also, Press Secretary Sean Spicer has made threats against career diplomats in the State Department that if they don’t agree with the President’s executive order, they should leave. After feedback from pechmerle (see comments), I am downgrading this for now.

#10 is looking a lot like it’s happening. As of February 2nd, Customs and Border Patrol appears to be purposely finding ways to misinterpret court orders that are clearly worded. Update: maybe they’re backing down for now.

Overall, what is probably needed is a graded scale: (a) none, (b) one or two isolated instances; (c) a pattern of conduct or purposeful effort; and (d) establishment of a standing policy. As conditions deteriorate, I can formalize this approach.

Also, unfortunately I left out things like making obvious false statements, for instance the recent falsehoods about voting fraud, or invocation of an event that never happened like the “Bowling Green Massacre”; and curtailment of free speech of government employees. Maybe that can be a separate list. I am interested in what other indicators have been left out.

→ 44 CommentsTags: President · U.S. Institutions